Ahead of the retail availability of the new iPhone SE 3 starting on March 20, reputed gadget reviewers have shared what they think of Apple’s cheapest 5G smartphone. Here’s a roundup of their thoughts on whether or not you should purchase the new iPhone SE 3.
The iPhone SE 3 is an incremental upgrade over its predecessor. It was announced at Apple’s Peek performance event earlier this month alongside the iPad Air 5, Apple Studio Display, and Mac Studio powered by the new M1 Ultra chip. The iPhone SE 3 borrows the A15 Bionic from the iPhone 13 range and supports 5G on the Sub-6GHz band. The new model brings back the 256GB storage variant discontinued ahead of the iPhone 13 launch last year. Besides this, nothing much has changed on the new iPhone SE.
2022 iPhone SE 3 Review Roundup
The Verge’s Allison Johnson opines that the new iPhone SE 3 is set to retail through Apple’s stores in all aspects except the screen. The design appears dated and accentuates the feeling of the small screen.
“Everything about the iPhone SE is designed for the next few years except for one very important component: the screen. More specifically, the thick bezels that border the 4.7-inch LCD on the top and bottom. It’s a tired design straight out of 2017 that makes an already-small screen feel even smaller than it could be.”
“It’s not just gaming that feels cramped on the SE — even in the phone’s native image gallery app I have to aim carefully to tap a “pause” button that’s crammed into a tiny little navigation bar at the top of the screen when I play back a video clip in landscape mode. The icons at the bottom of the Facebook app are jammed shoulder-to-shoulder. Sometimes Instagram will load with the messages icon tucked underneath my battery life percentage. The modern internet and app experience were just not constructed for a 16:9 4.7-inch screen.”
Johnson’s review lays emphasis on the upgrade to A15 Bionic and how it takes the phone’s performance to the next level.
“In day-to-day use, the SE behaves like a phone with a top-tier processor. Apps open quickly, and even the graphics-intensive Genshin Impact runs smoothly. There’s not a lot that the SE can’t do that a $1000-plus phone can.”
Johnson also touches upon the support for 5G, albeit without mmWave band compatibility.
“The SE also gets 5G this year. It doesn’t include mmWave, which is the very fast but hard-to-find variety that Verizon tried to convince us all was the future two years ago. It’s not the future, and it doesn’t really matter that the SE doesn’t support it, because it does support low and mid-band 5G, including C-band. Verizon and AT&T are expanding their 5G networks with C-band over the next few years, and that should actually improve network speeds considerably. Support for 5G is a good future-proofing feature, even if it’s not tremendously useful yet.”
The review laments the lack of MagSafe that would have made the iPhone SE 3 more versatile. It also commends the camera for performing well in bright light. Deep Fusion appears to compensate for the lack of a secondary lens or depth sensor. However, low light performance is underwhelming.
“Even though the hardware is old, image quality is certainly good enough for day-to-day snapshots. It can even do decent-looking portrait mode photos with a single lens.
The new processor offers some software-based improvements for this generation, adding Apple’s Deep Fusion technology to boost details in medium and dim lighting. It’s a feature that engages automatically under certain conditions, and there’s no way to tell in image metadata when it’s being used, but I can say that photos of static subjects in crappy indoor lighting look plenty detailed.
However, in very low light, the SE doesn’t do as well. That’s because there’s no night mode, a feature available on many other midrange phones sold in 2022 like the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G, and of course, the Google Pixel 5A. As a result, images in low light are very dark, and colors look muddled. Night mode on any smartphone has its limitations, and usually isn’t very useful for moving subjects. But it’s a nice tool to have when conditions are dark and flash isn’t an option, and it’s a shame that it’s not included here.”
In summary, Johnson believes the iPhone SE 3 is “for someone who just wants an iOS device for as little money as possible and doesn’t mind a small screen.”
Engadget’s review of the iPhone SE 3 essentially voices a similar opinion. The phone is likened to a “throwback.”
“At a time when basically all smartphones have done away with home buttons, this year’s iPhone SE feels anachronistic. Its home button sits in a bezel below the screen, while the top bezel hides the device’s front camera. If you’re familiar with the last iPhone SE, then you’ll know what to expect: This year’s model is so similar that I legit have trouble telling them apart. The only way I know which one I’m holding is if I scrutinize the phone’s rear casing under a fluorescent light. The review unit Apple sent this year is a dark blue, while the 2020 iPhone SE in my possession is black. Oh, and, according to the specs sheets, the new SE is a whole four grams lighter. Considering the earlier model already looked outdated, the latest iPhone feels very much stuck in the past.”
The review notes that Apple should have gone the extra mile and improved the display specifications on the new iPhone SE.
“Like many phones from 2017, this year’s iPhone SE sports a 4.7-inch LCD screen with 1,334 x 750 resolution. Honestly, those specs are downright tragic for 2022 standards, by which OLEDs have become commonplace. Don’t even get me started on the refresh rate.”
Engadget notes that eh camera should suffice but remains rather unremarkable.
“If you’re content with a solo camera, the iPhone SE 2022 will suffice. It takes surprisingly sharp and colorful photos that are on par with the iPhone 13 mini’s. Ornaments on the red brick facade of a local building looked equally crisp when shot on either phone, even when I zoomed all the way in. It’s clear that with the A15 Bionic and processing upgrades like Smart HDR 4, Apple’s been able to make the iPhone SE’s camera perform as well as the main sensor on its flagship.”
I was surprised by how similar the iPhone SE’s pictures were to the iPhone 13 mini’s. From landscapes to portraits of my coworkers, there were barely any differences in the shots taken by the two phones. The Pixel 5a was better at isolating our video producer’s spiky hair from the background than either iPhone, but all three devices performed admirably.”
The A15 Bionic also fetched the praise it is worthy of. However, iOS wasn’t up to scratch and detracted from the fluid user experience.
“In everyday use, the A15 Bionic was powerful enough for most of my tasks, including editing and exporting a minute-long video in iMovie and using the camera’s Live Text feature to scan product labels around me. I did notice some delays while setting up the phone, with a noticeable pause from when I tapped “Continue” to when the next page came up. I also couldn’t screen record while using SharePlay on a FaceTime video call to show my home page to my colleague which, according to an alert, was a buffering issue. Apple also doesn’t allow you to record your screen while SharePlaying, which I wish was what the notification explained instead. But everything else ran smoothly.”
You can also check out some video reviews of the new iPhone SE 3 from popular TechTubers below:
Will you buy the iPhone SE 3, considering the reviews? If yes, make sure to check out our guide on which color would suit you best. Found this roundup helpful? Let us know in the comments.